What is the Japantown Task Force Role in the Geary BRT Project?
The Japantown Task Force has a grant from the San Francisco County Transportation Authority (SFCTA) to assist seeking community input to the Geary Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Study. The SFCTA is conducting public workshops to publicize and raise awareness of the Geary BRT Study with the last of the workshops on Thursday, Nov. 2 at Jones Memorial Methodist Church. JTF has organized a group of stakeholders to study the Geary BRT alternatives.
What is the Geary Bus Rapid Transit Project?
Geary Boulevard is a critical corridor for San Francisco residents and neighborhood business vitality. It runs through a diverse set of communities including the Tenderloin, Japantown, Western Addition, and the Richmond. It is home to significant commercial activity as well as larger medical facilities. Geary Boulevard also serves a critical transportation function, running from Market Street to the Pacific Ocean, and connecting residents and businesses to and from all parts of the city. The bus routes 38 and 38R are the busiest in the city, carrying over 50,000 daily riders.
Because Geary serves such an important transportation function, the 2003 voter-approved transportation sales tax measure Prop K included funding for major bus transit improvements on Geary Blvd., with the goal of reducing transit travel time, increasing transit reliability, and improving passenger comfort and safety.
Bus rapid transit (BRT) is a high-quality transit service that reduces travel time, increases reliability, and improves passenger comfort by:
- Giving the bus its own traffic lane so it can run faster
- Giving the bus priority at traffic signals so it spends less time stopped at red lights
- Providing real-time information to riders about when the next bus is coming to allow them to manage their time better
- Building well-designed bus stations to improve safety and comfort
- Providing streetscape improvements and amenities to make the street safer and more comfortable for pedestrians and bicyclists accessing the transit stations
SFCTA Staff will be making recommendations at the end of the study expected to be concluded by February 2007. The two or three alternatives will then commence the Environmental Impact Review process.
A Japantown Stakeholder Committee led by JTF met in September 2006 and concluded the following impacts and issues in Japantown:
- We must know scope of alternatives, construction time, and costs to develop a formal opinion of a preferred alternative.
- Considering the likely future development in Japantown and Fillmore, the Plaza alternatives must include increased parking.
- Considering heightened concern for pedestrian safety, a pedestrian crossing solution across Geary at Buchanan (Peace Plaza) must be included.
- To improve the connection with the Fillmore Jazz District, the Plaza alternatives must included improving the Geary street life, address increased parking, and make for pedestrian-friendly streets. The Fillmore Plaza will be the most significant construction project in the Geary Corridor Plan and will have a certain negative impact on merchants in the area. Minimizing construction time, and mitigating plans for construction disruptions to traffic and pedestrians must be clarified.
- There will have to be consolidation and coordination of planning BRT with the Better Neighborhood Plan for Japantown.